For many of us, dessert is the best bit of a meal. Everyone looks forward to a scoop of homemade ice cream, slice of sweet tart or a biscuit or two. Believe it or not, you can create a version of a classic Italian dessert at home in just a few simple steps. Whether you’re craving a slab of luscious layered tiramisu or a plate of creamy panna cotta, these desserts are comforting and elegant in equal measure.
Perfect a whole menu with our best ever Italian-style recipes, from carbonara to fresh bruschetta and crisp, golden-brown arancini. Finish off your menu with our top Italian-style cocktail recipes – try a pre-dinner aperitivo or punchy negroni to sip at your leisure.
Best ever Italian dessert recipes
This iconic sweet treat is easy to make at home with our simple recipe. Make it ahead of time to allow the flavours to mingle and intensify while you’re munching on a crunchy bruschetta starter. Layer up coffee-soaked sponge fingers, smooth mascarpone and plenty of rich dark chocolate shavings, then serve up slabs of this caffeinated classic. Make even more satisfying desserts with our best tiramisu recipes. Try a quick cheat’s version, a modern rolled roulade or creamy grown-up cheesecake.
A crisp cannoli shell filled with creamy ricotta – there’s no better combination. Spend a weekend making a batch of these moreish cannolis to enjoy with your afternoon cup of coffee, or as a tasty way to round off an Italian-inspired feast. Dipping the ends of your cannoli in chocolate and crushed pistachios gives your treats a professional finish and added nutty flavour. They require a little more effort to make, but guests are guaranteed to be impressed.
3. Vanilla panna cotta
Our delicate vanilla pudding is the ideal summer dessert: light, sweet and easy to pair with seasonal fruit. We’ve topped our simple panna cotta with a vibrant strawberry compote and fresh fruit to make an eye-catching dish. Scoop up soft pudding with a drizzle of sharp berry coulis for a taste of late summer. For even more mouth-watering flavour combinations, try our favourite panna cotta recipes.
4. Torta del nonna
We’ve given this impressive-looking Tuscan-inspired tart a chocolatey twist on the traditional custard filling. Fill a delicate pastry case with an indulgent chocolate ricotta filling flavoured with orange zest for a hint of citrus. The finished tart will have that characteristic custardy wobble, but will firm up as it cools. You can make it the night before your dinner party and chill in the fridge until you’re ready.
Everyone loves a shot of sweet, fruity limoncello to round off a decadent meal. Give your frozen dessert a boozy kick with our limoncello and raspberry semifreddo. Enjoy a bowlful of this creamy ice cream loaf with a drizzle of zingy coulis and fresh raspberries.
Chewy, sticky and sweet, this Tuscan-style treat is made with candied peel, toasted nuts, fried fruit and spices. A slice of panforte is best enjoyed with a glass of sweet wine or strong coffee. It’s simple to make – just mix your fruit and nut mixture into your wet ingredients, bake and leave to set in the tin. Lucky guests can cut themselves a wedge once it’s cool and firmed up.
7. Hazelnut gelato with rich chocolate sauce
Hazelnut is a favourite flavour in Italian desserts, and gelato is no exception. Make a batch of our hazelnut gelato and enjoy a bowlful with a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce and chopped hazelnuts. Adding a spoonful of instant coffee gives your chocolate sauce great depth of flavour and a splash of hazelnut liqueur adds an extra layer of boozy indulgence.
Give your post-dinner drinks an air of sophistication with affogato. For those who want something a little different to the traditional espresso, pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a melty dessert you can put together in minutes. Try our amaretti affogato with the addition of crushed amaretti biscuits for extra crunch.
9. Chocolate panettone
A slice of fluffy toasted panettone – perhaps served with a dollop of cream, some butter or rich chocolate spread – makes a moreish brunch option or after-dinner treat. Why limit this festive classic to the winter season? Our chocolate-flavoured version is lighter-than-air and also makes wonderful French toast.
10. Espresso & dark chocolate biscotti
Biscotti are twice-baked Italian biscuits with an irresistible crunch. They’re delicious enjoyed with a coffee at the end of your meal. We’ve put our own spin on the traditional almond flavour with strong espresso and rich dark chocolate. A box of these sophisticated bites also makes a great homemade gift.
Enjoyed these recipes? Try our other Italian-inspired dishes…
Italian-style cocktail recipes
How to make focaccia
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What’s your favourite Italian treat? Leave a comment below…